Let’s start with some injury updates, the first two of the good news variety.
The Penguins have activated Evgeni Malkin from IR, which means he’ll likely suit up for today’s (Saturday’s) game against Edmonton. Malkin has played just two games this season while being out for nearly a month with a leg injury. Get him back into your lineup as soon as possible.
John Tavares could return to the Leafs’ lineup on Saturday after missing the past six games with a broken finger. On Friday he practiced on the Leafs’ second line with Mitch Marner and Trevor Moore, along with on the first-unit power play. You might want to wait for an official announcement, but you might also want to have him ready to go.
Victor Hedman missed his second consecutive game on Friday. However, Lightning coach Jon Cooper said that Hedman hopes to play in next Friday’s and Saturday’s Global Series games in Sweden. Because of the travel schedule overseas, the Bolts have a less-than-ideal schedule for the next week and a half. Something to consider if you’re thinking of adding someone like Tyler Johnson or Ondrej Palat. For more on the schedule of the Lightning and other teams, see our most recent Looking Ahead article.
In the Flyers’ shootout win over the Devils, Joel Farabee scored his first NHL goal in his sixth NHL game. This was a 65-minute game, but Farabee logged over 16 minutes and even received some first-unit power-play time. That’s not terrible usage and the Flyers might be seeing what they have in the 19-year-old. Let’s see if he can stick.
Speaking of first NHL goals, Henri Jokiharju also scored his first… in his 52nd career NHL game. I would have thought he would have scored it by now given his pedigree, yet he has it regardless. Fellow right-shot defenseman Brandon Montour could return as early as tonight, so we’ll have to see how his return would affect Jokiharju’s icetime.
Michal Kempny, offensive force? Kempny recorded three assists with a plus-3 on Friday, which gives him eight points and a plus-8 in just seven games. I liked the way that Kempny played during Washington’s 2018 Stanley Cup run, but that was mainly from a defensive standpoint. Don’t expect a breakout from the 29-year-old defender, as he receives virtually no power-play time.
The Evgeny Kuznetsov – Jakub Vrana – Tom Wilson line was firing on Friday. The surprising part was that it was Vrana and Wilson getting the points. Vrana scored two goals while firing eight shots, while Wilson was almost everything his bangers league owners wanted him to be, scoring a goal and added two assists while dishing five hits. Kuznetsov: no points.
After losing three of their first four games, the Islanders have now reeled off eight straight wins. Are you surprised? Maybe you shouldn’t be, as they are a well-coached team that was the top defensive team last season. Thomas Greiss stopped 33 of 35 shots to earn his fourth consecutive win. He’s allowed two goals in each of those four wins. With the Isles playing again on Saturday, Semyon Varlamov will have a chance to earn his own fifth consecutive win. See Goalie Post so that you know which goalie the Islanders will turn to, as both are worth a start whenever they are in action.
Anders Lee seems to have shaken off his slow start. After just four points in his first ten games, Lee now has five points over his last two games. That includes his goal and two assists on Friday. Lee hadn’t been shooting at the same rate as he had in seasons past, but he took a season-high four shots on Friday. If you’ve moved him to your bench, get him back into your lineup.
Speaking of slow starts, the buy-low window should now be closing on Sebastian Aho, who scored two goals and added an assist with a plus-3 on Friday. Aho now has eight points (4g-4a) over his last seven games. The only downside is that he’s not playing on the first-unit power play, although Rod Brind’Amour seems to be spreading his scoring over two units rather than trying to stack his top scorers all onto the first unit. This could mean that Aho makes his way back to the first unit eventually, but Aho has just two power-play points this season after co-leading the Canes with 24 last season. If Aho stays on the second unit all season, he might not quite measure up to your preseason expectations.
Dougie Hamilton added three more assists on Friday, which gives him a six-game point streak. In fact, his game log shows that he’s had points in all but two games this season. The Hurricanes have finally unleashed the beast, and it is doing wonders for your fantasy team. Or to put it another way, he’s been aided by Justin Faulk being traded to St. Louis (fantasy impact here). Why oh why couldn’t Brind’Amour have done this earlier? It was getting to the point where I was expecting Jaccob Slavin or Brett Pesce to receive PP1 minutes before Hamilton. Better late than never, I suppose.
Anthony Mantha was moved down to the Wings’ second line recently, likely to try to get Andreas Athanasiou going. After a downturn from his early-season production, Mantha scored twice on Friday, with Athanasiou assisting on both goals. Athanasiou has thrived in the past without top-drawer linemates, so don’t be surprised to see him turn it around soon now that Mantha is on his line. The Wings play all off nights next week (Monday/Wednesday/Friday/Sunday), so AA and other Wings that you have your eye on might be worth adding for next week.
Roope Hintz scored two more goals on Friday, giving him nine goals already (but just one assist). At age 22, Hintz is obviously a player to retain in keeper league (depending on your situation, of course). In single-season leagues, however, there’s a sell-high opportunity. Hintz is currently shooting at an unsustainable 29% overall and 9.88% at 5-on-5. While I was looking up his hot streak from late last season, I actually discovered that he didn’t score a single goal in his last 11 regular-season games. During that stretch, he did record seven assists, however. Expect a lower goal rate but a higher assist rate soon.
With his power-play goal, Nathan MacKinnon’s point streak to start the season is now at 13 games. He also fired a season-high 12 shots on goal on Friday. Oh, and he’s great with kids in those Tim Horton’s commercials.
On pure talent alone, John Gibson might be a top-5 goalie. However, there’s more to fantasy success than talent. I remember Dobber once mentioning three pillars of a successful fantasy goalie (and please weigh in if I am misquoting): talent, team, and opportunity. Gibson has two of those elements going. The Ducks, as they often are, were outshot by a significant margin on Friday against the Canucks. Yet Gibson nearly stole the game in regulation but was successful in earning the overtime win in stopping 39 of 40 shots. Not surprisingly, Gibson is among the league leaders with a .926 save percentage. I’m killing it in the save percentage category in one league because I own both Gibson and Tuukka Rask! (.951 SV%)
With the overtime winner on Friday, Ryan Getzlaf now has a four-game goal streak. I believe the broadcast said the last time that happened for Getzlaf was 2009. I wanted to add him in one league yesterday, but someone beat me to the punch by a few hours. Believe it or not, but his ownership is on the rise again.
Quinn Hughes left Friday’s game with an ankle injury. However, the Canucks have not ruled him out for tonight’s (Saturday’s) game in San Jose. Sounds like a minor injury, so hopefully that’s true.
Saw Quinn Hughes in the hall post-game. No walking boot, and no visible ice pack or brace. Travis Green would not rule him out of tomorrow’s line up vs. San Jose. #Canucks
— Brendan Batchelor (@BatchHockey) November 2, 2019
Like it or not, Alex Edler took over on the first-unit power play in Hughes’ absence. Edler logged over 30 minutes in this game and should log some insane icetime totals if Hughes misses any time. Hughes would be missed on the Canucks’ power play, as he entered Friday’s game with seven points (all power-play assists) in his previous five games.
Connor Hellebuyck rebounded nicely from allowing five goals on 19 shots on Tuesday. In fact, Friday’s start was practically the opposite, as he stopped 51 of 53 shots in earning a 3-2 win over the Sharks.
In contrast, Martin Jones performed at a level that is becoming the norm for him, allowing three goals on 19 shots in the loss. Jones is now winless over his last six starts, and he has not posted a win since mid-October. Even though the Sharks should turn it around at some point, Jones is virtually unstartable right now. You’d think that a team with designs on the Stanley Cup would take more drastic measures to improve its goalie situation, yet Jones is signed for four more years after this one at a cap hit of $5.75 mil per. Again, follow the money.
By the way, I understand the importance of starts and wins, but in my opinion Jones (79%) should not be owned in more Yahoo leagues than either Varlamov (71%) or Greiss (63%).
For more fantasy hockey information, or to reach out to me directly, you can follow me on Twitter @Ian_Gooding.
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